BPP Elections

Candidate Profile: Xerxes Dastur

My agenda for the BPP election

Xerxes V Dastur-bigAll too often, elections are fought on the illusion of an agenda – a lot of words but few commitments and even less delivered. I have been writing about various issues on my mind, but I wanted to consolidate it in one note as a common minimum programme before the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) election. As a candidate, I believe it’s important to state my aims clearly so that the voters understand what I stand for and what my objectives are.
I am glad they found support from the likes of Mr. Minoo Rustomji Shroff, past BPP head and eminent economist who proposed my candidature, and Mr. Cyrus Jamshed Guzder, the leading industrialist who seconded it.
My objectives, if elected, fall broadly under three categories.

Financial
• Immediate closure of the trust’s accounts, which have not been closed for a couple of years.
• Complete transparency of the accounts. There is no reason you should not be able to access or examine them.
• Pay-per-performance model for donations. This would make donors more confident and would force the Punchayet to deliver on promises made.
• Better financial management to bring in efficiencies and free up funds for critical works, scholarships for students, a corpus for maintenance and repair of baugs and buildings, and to fund entrepreneurial ventures by Parsis.
• Innovative methods of fund-raising, such as crowdsourcing.
• Specific earmarked funds for social objectives such as the Mobed Amelioration Scheme and the Third Child Scheme.

Administrative
• Working to vacate the stay on allotment of flats by the charity commissioner. There is also a need to revisit the leave and licence model and possible conversion into rental agreements.
• Complete transparency in the functioning of the trust.
• Appointment of a chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) to ensure smooth running of operations. These appointments should be made by an independent panel of eminent community members and ratified by the trust’s board. This would bring in efficiencies and huge savings.
• Right to recall of trustees who have not performed. We have had enough of people who talk a lot but do nothing. To ensure against abuse of this power, we could have a high threshold – say, 80% of negative votes – for recall of the trustee.
• A strong code of conduct, not just for the election but also for trustees during their tenure. This should be complemented by a code of ethics that can be monitored by an independent panel of eminent community members and must be strictly adhered to.
• A strong code of ethics should also ensure that we don’t have community issues being discussed and dirty linen washed in the cosmopolitan press.
• Declaration of any conflicts of interest at the time of the election and also when tenders are awarded.
• It makes no sense for the very people standing for elections to be overseeing them. The election needs to be run by an independent commission.
• Full documentation of board meetings and complete access of the community to them.
• Standardisation of operating procedures and their documentation.

Others
• A better interface with the community in the form of a portal on which all documents, tenders and accounts are available. It would also have a mechanism through which complaints are dealt with and the progress is tracked.
• On it, you could also view available housing and track schemes run by the BPP.
• Career and academic counselling centres for our youth. Too many are shunning professional qualifications in return for safe jobs. This needs to change if we are to progress.
• A medical insurance scheme for not just our seniors but for the community as a whole. This would lower healthcare costs and free up money for other matters. Many insurance firms would be interested in the business and we could benefit from the significantly lower premiums of the bulk deal. For those who still have a hard time paying, the BPP could step in. Tie-ups with leading medical institutions would mean an assured number of beds and lower treatment costs.
• Deep engagement with the youth, ensuring that their voice is heard in the handling of community affairs.

The Parsi community simply cannot afford seven more years of a BPP that does not deliver. We need trustees that are agents of change and who can deliver on the promises they make. As a highly experienced finance and management consultant who has worked with trusts across the country, I understand the paradigm change the BPP requires.
It’s time to vote for change.

Click here to download his profile.

Please stay in touch with me on my Facebook page and on Twitter (@DasturXerxes). You could also email me at xerxes.dastur2015@gmail.com or call me on 022-22065837.

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